Originally created 11/12/06

Bathrooms sparkle



EDITOR'S NOTE: Grime Pays is a semimonthly series focusing on area workers whose jobs are hot, strenuous or just plain dirty. If you think your job is tough enough to profile, call Rainier Ehrhardt at (706) 828-3853.

Bruce Bowman spends most of his day scrubbing bathroom floors most people have simply given up on.

As an owner of Sparkling Image, an Ohio-based deep-cleaning franchise, Mr. Bowman cleans public restrooms at area businesses, including Carrabba's, Zaxby's and Regal Cinemas.

The 44-year-old former insurance claims manager says that toilets, sinks and tiles need more than just the once-over given by the typical janitorial worker. Think of the difference between washing a car and detailing a car.

"If you want to get your bathroom cleaned and detailed, you come to us," he said.

Not all dirt is created equal, Mr. Bowman said, adding that knowing what you're up against is half the battle to bathroom cleanliness.

"Your restaurant is going to have an animal fat-type dirt, while a movie theater will not," he said.

His weapon of choice is the "Sparklizer 4000," which is part blower, part pressure washer and part wet vacuum all in one unit. Mr. Bowman and his crews blast bathrooms with cleaning solutions, focusing on the floors, usually the dirtiest part of the bathroom.

"Contrary to what people think, toilets aren't that bad," he said.

That doesn't keep him from putting a little elbow grease into it, though. On one recent job at Slingers, a restaurant that opened five weeks ago in the former Gary's Hamburgers spot on North Leg Road, Mr. Bowman and his employee Matt Ritz broke a sweat after several minutes of scrubbing tile grout.

The whole process took about an hour and a half, ending when Mr. Bowman applied stainless steel polish to fixtures and poured special enzymes down the floor drain to help control odors.

Slingers owners Kris and Rachel McRae said they believe the only time the bathroom has been cleaner is when it was built 25 years ago.

"We had a guy come in the other day who said he's been coming here for 20 years," Ms. McRae said. "He said, 'I didn't know the grout was that color.'"

As for the future, Mr. Bowman isn't worried about his entrepreneurial venture.

"As long as there are public restrooms," he said, "I'll be in business."